UFC 158 fight card: Johny Hendricks vs Carlos Condit fight prediction, preview and breakdown

Photo courtesy of Esther Lin for MMAFighting.com

Johny Hendricks is on his way up to a 170-pound title shot, while his opponent in the UFC 158 co-main event this evening (March 16, 2013), Carlos Condit, is just on his way down. Will "Bigg Rigg" continue his rise to the top of the welterweight contender ladder or will "Natural Born Killer" find a way to return to the summit quicker than expected? Jason Probst for MMAmania.com breaks it all down.

In an opponent switch for both men, the styles of Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit -- who will co-headline UFC 158 tonight (March 16, 2013) from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada -- should make for a classical striker vs. wrestler mixed martial arts (MMA) conflict.

Hendricks’ ability to smother Condit, ride out the clock and control from top position are potent assets, but he’ll have to negotiate dangerous territory standing, as "The Natural Born Killer" is a capable and fearless striker with a more diverse arsenal, to boot.

In a bout where a win by Hendricks greatly augments his case for an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight title shot, Condit comes off his decision loss to champ Georges St. Pierre at UFC 154 in Dec. 2012 with reinforced credentials, which were no surprise to longtime watchers of the former 170-pound World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) kingpin.

He’s tough as nails and one of the most durable fighters in the sport, even when he’s getting smothered on the mat against a stifling top-control specialist like St. Pierre. Hendricks has put together two incredible wins with blowout, first-round knockouts of Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann, and his comfort level in the standing department will go a long way toward dictating the outcome of this bout.

Convinced that St. Pierre is ducking him, a definitive statement against Condit would be one hell of a way to cement his argument that he deserves the next title shot.

Check out a complete breakdown of the UFC 158 co-main event between Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit below:

The Breakdown

While Hendricks has shown impressive one-punch power in blowing out durable types like Fitch and Kampmann, they were basically achieved with the same move – dipping down to feint a takedown shot and then driving an overhand left upstairs through the opening.

Condit has excellent footwork and you can be sure he’ll be ready to deal with Hendricks. There’s little doubt "Bigg Rigg" can dominate in clinches and score takedowns, but Condit’s ability to stay composed -- ever-confident he can land a fight-changing blow or submission attempt -- may have to outlast Hendricks’ likely frustration if and when he realizes that Condit’s defensive guard is frustrating and difficult to mount effective offense against.

The three-round fight is definitely Hendricks' advantage because he basically only needs to win two rounds, which means less risks involved with standing, entering into clinches and working for tie-ups and takedowns. Condit’s got great skills to uncork knees and kicks, and chains together stand up sequences very nicely, as well as top-notch killer instinct and conditioning.

Condit has become acclimated to dealing with the wrestler style and the attendant frustrations of having to wait a while to get the proverbial ball and go on the offense – Hendricks looked lost at times against Josh Koscheck, who didn’t fold early and gave him fits both on the feet and the mat. If Hendricks’ doesn’t assert himself in the first round and win it definitively, that’s a huge edge to Condit, who figures to dial and get ever-more-accurate on the feet as he gauges range and Hendricks’ striking, which is powerful but fairly one-dimensional.

He doesn’t kick much and generally tosses off a one-two combination prior to forcing clinches reverting to his strong grappling game.

The Pick

This is a real pick-em style fight, and Condit has the kind of shocking, one-shot power, as well as the game-bred kind of mentality to come from behind and win. He’ll circle and pick spots in the opening round, fighting off the opening-minutes takedowns, but eventually getting wrested to the mat by the powerful Hendricks, who’ll do just enough work from the top, in guard, while denying submission setups and working to prevent a stand up.

By mid-bout, Condit will feel the fight’s momentum slipping away and open up with aggressive attacks, using flying knees and haymaker-style strikes to try and take Hendricks’ head off. However, Hendricks will keep cool and composed, scoring a takedown late in the second to cement the round.

In the third, with Hendricks tiring and Condit ever-willing to trade, the latter will go all-out working for the finish, battering "Bigg Rigg" and scoring big in some breathtaking exchanges where both men are hurt and in dire trouble, battling down the stretch as the bout ends.

Hendricks via split decision.

Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC 158 pay-per-view (PPV) main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 10 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 6:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.

Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst

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